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CITIZEN CHARTER

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CITIZENS CHRONICLE
CHARTER IAS ACADEMY
A CIVIL SERVICES CHRONICLE INITIATIVE

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Citizens all over the world have become which come into contact with the citizens. Added

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conscious of their rights as customers and clientele to it, the intellectual revelations, emphasizing
services provided by the public organizations. They modifications in the processes of the government

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have become assertive in receiving quality and in specific and its organization in general, brought
timely services from the government and at the citizen services into limelight. The New Public

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same time they detest delay. They expect the Management, which emphasized decentralization,
government agencies to deliver goods and services changed management style, rationalization or

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to them at their hour of need rather than at the streaming of administrative structures, concern for
convenience of the government agencies. They pay citizen, application of management principles
for the services as demanded by public (where the customer occupies primary position) etc.,
organizations and in the process rightly demand acted as catalyst to the administrative reforms in
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for those services and it was not the case in the
past. Such change was the direct result of
the sphere of citizen-friendly administration.
Besides, in Reinventing Government: How the
customer-focus of private organizations, which Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public
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influenced public organizations in changing the Sector, David Osborne and Ted Gaebler emphasized
work environment, structures and processes for that the government should improve their
serving the citizens better. Such was the impact of operational efficiency towards citizens. All such
citizen-focussed activities of the government, that intellectual stirring and practicalities necessitated
the public officials have to some extent changed reforms in the administrative systems, one of which
their attitudes towards citizens as buyers or is citizens charters, a move towards providing
customers of government services received at some better services to citizens.
cost. In the past, citizen was expected to pay fee to
Citizens charter is a document that represents
the government agencies and receive services at
an effort by public agencies to focus on citizen
the will of the government agencies. Citizen has
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needs. The idea behind citizens charters is


no option but to bear the lackadaisical attitude of
transparency in all their activities particularly the
the bureaucrats, irrespective of citizens needs. At
activities that lead to provide certain services to
the same time, the services provided by the
citizens. The commitment is in respect of standards
government were of poor quality. Thus, the whims
and quality of services to be provided to citizens.
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and fancies of the public officials determined the


The standards are fixed from the perspective of
delivery of services to the people in India. To offset
implying that the citizens should be aware within
such inconvenience to people, citizens charter came
what time frame the citizens receive services.
into existence, which are expected to change such
Besides, the citizens charters exhort public officials
whimsical functioning of public agencies.
to exhibit courteous attitude towards citizens who
A citizens charter is a micro-concept in the come in the capacity of customers to public officers
sense that it is invoked by an organization and as they pay for the services they intend to receive.
symbolizes the sincerity of government endeavors The charters are nothing but a code of conduct on
all over the world to initiate changes in the the part of public officials imposed by themselves
administrative systems to make them more citizen- to provide services on a better note to citizens. They
friendly. Such efforts were the result of the assume moral dimension of civil service
changing political, social and economic conditions accountability and hence do not have any legal
witnessed in the form of Liberalization, binding on public officials but act as guide in
Privatization and Globalization (LPG). The onset discharging their duties in the capacity of public
of LPG and the entry of private entrepreneurs in servants. They are voluntary in nature and do not
those activities hitherto reserved for the government impose any legal obligations on public officials.
agencies necessitated changes in the structures and Through these charters, public officials make a
processes of government agencies, particularly those commitment to citizens for providing better services.
Chronicle IAS Academy [3]
The sanction behind the citizens charter is moral standards to performance, quality of services,
and nothing else. simplification of procedures, redressal of grievances,
etc. Besides, the charters are necessary for the
The commitments imposed by citizens charters
following reasons:
are not limited to public officials as the charters
impose certain obligations on citizens as well, who  The efficacy of any democratic country lies
approach public offices as recipients of certain in the efficient functioning of its political

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services. The charters are a commitment on the and administrative apparatus. If both work
part of public officials and citizens as well. Citizens in tandem in delivering goods and services
to citizens, it can be considered as a

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charters not only provide the details of commitment
of public organization towards citizens, but vice successful polity. It is the responsibility of

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versa. The commitment on the part of citizens and the political representatives to mould the
also public organizations towards each other administrative machinery to the needs of
necessitates certain changes in the attitude of public citizens. If the political representatives fail

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servants and citizens as well. It also necessitates in controlling the civil servants and making

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certain changes in the administrative processes them to work towards the delivery of goods
towards increasing efficiency of public delivery and services to citizens according to the
system. Such altitudinal change among civil wishes of the citizens, the government under
servants and changes in administrative practices
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are a necessity, particularly in the era of People loose faith in the functioning of
privatization, where customer is considered as the democratic institutions and the concept of
king. peoples power in democracy becomes
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meaningless. Hence, it is the responsibility
NEED FOR CITIZENS CHARTERS of political leaders as the representative of
citizens to ensure delivery of services to
A citizens charter is a manifestation of public citizens from the administrative system.
agencies desire to provide quality services to its Citizens charters are a step towards
clients. It is an informal understanding between ensuring delivery of services to citizens
citizens and government agencies to exchange efficiently.
services in lieu of money paid by the former to the  The citizens occupy a pivotal place in the
latter. It symbolizes a sense of responsibility of entire politico-administrative set up. It is the
citizens towards public organizations and citizens who accept or reject the government
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organizations obligations towards citizens. In the by their electoral power. The administrative
process of such exchange of services and money apparatus implements the policies and
between citizens and public organizations, citizens programmes pertaining to the requirements
charters play a positive role. At the same time, the of the citizens. Since, every democratic
government is citizen-centred, it is the
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rising expectations of citizens have compelled the


government agencies to alter their processes and responsibility of public administration to
practices to render qualitative services. Citizens provide qualitative and timely services.
charters lay down the duties of citizens and public Citizens charters provide a focus on citizens
servants in clear terms leaving no ambiguity. services by upgrading their status from a
Undoubtedly, citizens charters are expected to play common man to a customer.
a positive role in the interaction between citizens  Every government provides certain services
and public organizations, as they are not simply to people irrespective of its form and nature.
entities in the process of administrative reform in Among the services provided by the
India. Citizens charters have raised high government, certain services are charged
expectations among the right-minded civil servants and certain other services are provided free
and they are optimistic that they would improve of cost. For instance, fire services are
the efficiency of delivery system of public goods provided to citizens free of cost and certain
and services. Therefore, citizens charters are services like supply of drinking water,
required for every public agency, coming into provided at certain cost. Whatever be the
contact with citizens and provide certain services service, the government provides it from the
to them. According to Dolly Arora, the charter is revenue it collects in the form of taxes from
exported to provide the details of the public service, the people. If one were to go by such

[4] Chronicle IAS Academy


definition, then every government service changes in environmental conditions. Accomplish-
comes at a cost, which is collected from ment of the organization should be compared with
citizens. Therefore, citizens have a right to the standards prescribed through the help of an
seek qualitative and timely services from the independent agency. At the same time standards
government, either free of cost or on should be specific and measurable and charters
payment. In the process of providing should avoid all such phrases which lead to
qualitative and timely services, citizens

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ambivalence in the minds of citizens. For example,
charters provide a good base on which a phrases like, We try to deliver services as soon as
responsive edifice of public administration possible, should be avoided, as they cannot be

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can be built. measured. Instead, the service will be provided


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Citizens charters offer solutions to certain within ten minutes of the acceptance of
administrative maladies. They are delay in application, may be used.
services, rigid rules, secrecy, bribes, etc.

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 Information: Every citizens charter should
These maladies can be minimized and provide all the details pertaining to the

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checked to a large extent by installing dissemination of information of the public
citizens charters in public organizations. agencies. Citizens should be provided all the
Since citizens charters provide details details about the availability of information.
pertaining to the services to the organization, The availability on time and appropriate
AC I the time schedule of then services, etc., certain
maladies can be context of globalization and
information to the citizens add to their
satisfaction and enhances the prestige of civil
liberalization, where the focus of all service in their eyes. The standards and
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organizations is on the customers needs and quality of services provided in simple and
aspirations. It is the responsibility of the plain language in citizens charters.
government to cater to the needs of its Charters should also provide the details
customers (citizens) who receive paid services pertaining to official hierarchy, where citizen
from the public agencies. By doing so, the can get information and in case of non-
maladies of public agencies could be availability of the officer concerned, the
exterminated to a large extent. alternative should be provided in the charter.
The citizens should be provided information
ESSENTIALS OF CITIZENS CHARTER in the form of guides, user books,
handbooks, posters, etc., for disseminating
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 Standards of service delivery: Every information.


citizens charter should provide details  Choice for citizen: The citizens charters
about all the services and their standards of should provide choice to users wherever
the respective public organization which possible. Charters should enable citizens in
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devised it. This enables citizens to know the giving feedback to public officers, on the
services expected from the organization. The basis of which public offices can improve
services should be standardized by defining their delivery system further. Charters
the time-limit for each service provided by should provide details regarding interaction
the agency, by providing qualitative service between citizens and public offices so that
and by providing required service to the citizens have a right to say something about
citizen. Standards are useful and relevant the quality of services received by them. Such
to the user and public organizations from interaction not only increases opportunities
which citizens receive services. The general for citizens in choosing quality and
tendency is that the organizations develop standards of services, but also increases
standards based on their own convictions cordial relationship between citizens and the
rather than considering the views of citizens, public offices.
which is not good for the development of At the same time, the charters should
cordial relationship between the explicitly state that services would be
organization and citizen. provided to citizens if they cooperate with
public officer. It is the responsibility of the
The standards should be monitored from time citizens to provide all the necessary
to time considering changes in citizens needs and information to public officials while
Chronicle IAS Academy [5]
receiving services from them. If citizens provide user-friendly and accessible systems which
provide correct information, they will be able are flexible. The system should be publicized so
to receive timely services from public offices that people can complain to the officers concerned
or else, they will experience delays. For and get their grievances redressed. After receiving
example, citizens should provide correct complaint from citizens, it is the reasonability of
information and its proof regarding name, the organization to look into them and redress them.
age, address, etc., to receive services The complainant should be kept informed about

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promptly within the prescribed time-limit the status of his or her complaint and the necessary
mentioned in citizens charters. action that follows. The officers dealing with

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 Courtesy towards citizen: The citizens grievances should be trained to solve citizens
problems at the first contact itself. Besides, every

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charters should ensure that citizens receive
courteous response from public officials to public personnel should be prepared to dedicate
all citizens who come to public offices. The himself to solve citizens grievances. If such state of

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public officials should wear name badge so affairs comes into existence in every public

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that citizens can identify public personnel organization, it is bound to enjoy citizens
easily in case of any misbehaviour or confidence.
arrogant answers by the officials. Public Any redressal system can be considered
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so that no citizen feels discriminated. In grievances. No redressal machinery can justify its
certain public offices, it is found that May presence unless citizens problems are solved. If
I Help You desks are provided to guide complaints received by the public organization are
citizens in receiving services from public
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thrown into dustbins, then expenses on redressal
offices. Such desks also assist citizens in machinery are wasteful. Depending on the nature
filling necessary form for obtaining services of complaints received from citizens, corrective
from public organizations. steps should be taken. If simple mistakes occur,
 Grievance redressed: Every public apologies should be rendered and in case of serious
organization should welcome complaints mistakes, necessary corrections should be rendered
from citizens as they provide feedback on and in case of serious mistakes, necessary
the lapses of quality of services. Such corrections should be made. On certain occasions,
feedback from citizens facilitates public even compensation can be paid if the failure of
offices to evaluate standards and quality of service leads to financial losses to citizens.
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services they provide to citizens. Constant


evaluation leads to improvements of public Citizens charters abroad
delivery system. If something goes wrong
either in the quality or standard of services, Efforts to make the government responsive to
immediate apologies should be offered to citizens needs have been a continuous process all
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citizens and at the same time, citizens should over the world. Particularly, the democratic
be quick enough to attend to citizens governments were eager to provide better and
complaints. Besides, the system should be qualitative services to citizens. It was a necessity
simple and flexible to solve citizens for a political party as its survival depends on
problems. By analyzing problems in delivery citizens satisfaction and therefore, the democratic
system and quality of services provided, the governments proceeded in this direction. To realize
public organizations will be able to go to this objective, the citizen was placed on a high
the root of the problem to ensure that it is pedestal and to this end liberalization and
not repeated. Besides, by analyzing recurring globalization added as catalysts. The needs of
problems, public organizations will be able customer were given priority and the public
to identify changes that can be effected organizations took cue from it. The governments
accordingly. needed a handy tool through which citizen could
be elevated to customer status vis--vis the public
The public organizations, as states earlier, should agencies, which provide services by taking some
welcome complaints, as they should be considered money from citizen. The countries chosen to describe
as an opportunity to improve standards and quality the status of citizens charters are as follows:
of services. Hence, they should treat complaints
with courteous attitude. Such organizations should
[6] Chronicle IAS Academy
1. United Kingdom report on efficient management of public
enterprises. But the major milestone in Indian
2. Australia
administration was the report submitted by Paul H.
3. Malaysia Appleby in 1953 and 1956. Paul H. Appleby was
an expert on public administration and suggested
4. South Africa
the establishment of O&M divisions in every
5. India department, and the Institute of Public Adminis-

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tration. His recommendations were immediately
The Government of Britain took initial steps in accepted. In the history of administrative reforms in

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providing such mechanism popularly called India, the place of Administrative Reforms
citizens charters. Commission occupies a significant place. It studies

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the administrative system in India and submitted 20
Reforms in India reports. Though several recommendations of the

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The successive dynasties which ruled India for ARC and other committees were not implemented,

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hundreds of years, changed administrative systems yet those which were implemented proved to be
to suit their local conditions and administrative the effective in improving service delivery of public
necessities. With the advent of the Mauryan administration in India.
dynasty, administration in India became systematic The Administrative Reforms Commission was
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and elaborate, whose details are found in Kautilyas
Arhashatra. In Arthashastra, Kautilya detailed
set up in the year 1966 and it touched almost all
the aspects of Indian administration. It touched
administrative system and the personnel manning the aspect of citizens grievances and the existing
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it. With changes in political conditions, machinery for redressing citizens grievances.
administrative system, both in structure and According to the commission, the administration
designations of administrators, underwent change. made inroads into the lives of citizens substantially
In the medieval period, rulers of Delhi Sultanate and resultantly, citizens are influenced by the
and the Mughals effected certain changes in government more now than before. It became an
administrative processes and structures. Such urgent need to take stock of the situation from the
measures were oriented towards strengthening the perspective of citizens and suggest such
personal rule of ruler rather than for the welfare of mechanisms which increase citizens satisfaction.
people. The commission found that the existing machinery
With the advent of the British and the of redressing citizens grievances was inadequate
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establishment of administrative structure, a replica and new measures were needed. Based on its study
of British administration made an impact on Indian of the Scandinavian mechanism of ombudsman,
administration. The administrative system was it recommended the creation of Lokpal and
suited to the needs of colonial power rather than Lokayuktas. Lokpal and Lokayuktas were to be
impartial and independent institutions with
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peoples welfare. Nevertheless, certain reforms were


people-oriented, like Ripons policy of local self- flexibility in their proceedings. But the
government. Certain other measures aimed at recommendations of the Adminsitrative Reforms
reforming Indian administration were Lee Commission were of no avail as the Lokpal Bill
Commissions report on Indianization of civil although introduced many times, failed to overcome
services, Government of India Secretariat Committee the legislative hurdles. As far as Lokayuktas are
(Wheeler Committee, 1936), Committee on concerned, they have become another public
Organization and Procedure (Maxwell Committee, agency of State Governments, as they are powerless
1937) and Tottenham Committee (1945-46). to deal with cases of corruption.

The administrative reforms aimed at making The changed economic scenario, after the
public administrative system more flexible and initiation of economic reforms, led to structural and
citizen-friendly continued in independent India. In procedural changes in Indian administration. Since
1947, the Secretariat Reorganization Committee the early nineties, responsive administration was
was set up to look into the matters of shortage of being talked about by political leadership in India.
higher-level officers. In 1949, a committee was To smoothen the process of economic reforms, the
formed under the chairmanship of Gopalaswami administrative reforms were considered as a
Aiyyangar to suggest changes in secretariat process. necessity. Several administrative reforms were
A.D. Gorwala, a retired civil servant, submitted his triggered by technological developments paving the
Chronicle IAS Academy [7]
way for e-governance. The governments at both increasing the awareness of citizens charters, the
the union and state levels made endeavors to make AR & PG aimed at conducting thirty workshops
public administration more citizens friendly and for different states. The emphasis was on the North
the Government of India took initiative with regard Eastern states. Besides, the department released a
to citizens charters. list of nodal officers of various ministries/
departments in charge of citizens charters. The
Efforts towards citizens charters Department of AR & PG itself brought out its

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charter and the copies of it were distributed to all
The Government of India, as stated earlier, the employees in the department and to all the

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intended to refurbish its image by improving its departments of Central and State Governments.
delivery system. Indian administration had all the The department also posted its citizens charter on

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requisites of a good administrative system, yet it is the website to make its activities more transparent.
perhaps lacking the desire to deliver goods to Introduction of citizens charters as instruments

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citizens as it should. The citizens had plethora of of administrative reforms is likely to satisfy people
grievances against the government agencies and as

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who expect something substantial to change the
public grievances come under the Department of state of affairs and redress their grievances.
Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (AR
& PG), it was assigned the role of a nodal agency Efficacy of citizens charters in India
for coordinating various activities pertaining to
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citizens charters concerned with promoting citizen-
friendly administrative. The Secretary, Ministry of
The following factors go long way in achieving
efficiency of citizens charters in India.
Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions headed 1. The success or failure of any administrative
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a core group of which other senior officials were institution in a country depends on the
also members. In the meetings of the core group collaboration of political executive, civil
held in February 2002, various drafts of citizens servants and people. The synchronization
charters were formulated and considered. In of efforts of all the three leads to successful
November 2003, eight charters formulated by functioning of an administrative reform. In
various ministries were considered. Till January the initial stages, it is the political will that
2004, various State Governments and Union should support the reform process followed
Territories administrations came out with 616 by wholehearted cooperation of civil
citizens charters. servants. Finally, it is the responsibility of
citizens to avail of its benefits by their
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Besides formulating citizens charters, numerous


seminars were conducted aiming at synchronizing vigilant attitude. The right production of
the activities of various ministries, NGOs, support from all the players facilitates
intellectuals, media, citizen forums, etc., regarding success of an administrative reform.
charters. The synchronization was aimed at 2. The political leaders are the most important
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bringing all those sections of the society on a single elements in improving efficiency of
platform for better exchange of ideas and views in administrative services. With popular
the implementation of citizens charters. In the mandate behind them, they are empowered
seminars, numerous public organizations actively to make all those policies aimed at improving
participated and based on the feedback of the administrative efficiency. It is the political
seminars, it was decided that focus should be on leadership, which provides leadership to the
formulation and implementation of citizens people. In India, Jawaharlal Nehru was
charters. successful in providing leadership to Indians
during his tenure as the Prime Minister of
In order to spread awareness of citizens charters
India. One should strive to emulate
among various ministries/departments and also
Jawaharlal Nehru in this regard. Affection,
among citizens, the AR & PG shouldered the
commitment and hard work invite love in
responsibility of spreading awareness by
turn by masses. But only a few leaders of
conducting workshops for State Governments.
the next generation could influence people
During the financial years 2002-2003, the AR &
as Nehru did. As stated earlier, citizens
PG conducted such workshops for the states of
charters can succeed if political leaders
Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and
support the cause of citizen and strive
Maharashtra. In continuance of its efforts towards
towards bettering citizen services.
[8] Chronicle IAS Academy
3. The civil servants should feel that citizens groups who lack even basic amenities like food,
charters are not a hindrance in public water and shelter. For those marginalized groups,
administration, but a tool for enhancing charters are of little value. Nevertheless, it is a
administrative efficiency and productivity. matter of time when citizens form a strong and
Citizens charters pave the way for coherent group and demand services as specified
streamlining administrative activities for in citizens charters.
ensuring delivery of services in a better

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The citizens charters are quite laudable in the
manner. In the process of streamlining
context of changing administrative scenario under
administrative activities, obsolete processes

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LPG. These charters act as directive principles for
are replaced by new ones, thus reducing
the governments as well as the administration world
the burden of work on administrators. This

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over. In most part of the countries, the orientation
is particularly true regarding the installation
of the government is fast changing only to serve
of information and communicational
the people better. Citizens charters, as laid down

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technologies in the delivery of services to
by the governments, act as guidance to the public

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citizens. This not only reduced the burden
officials as well as citizens. The thinking of the
of work on public personnel but also
governments is fast changing from hitherto
increased the pace of work.
experience towards treating the people as customers
4. Finally, it is the citizen who should benefit rather than subjects. The maxim found in
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particularly from citizens charter. In
economics that the customer is the king in the
market is the spirit behind the charters that
charters, the activities of public organization are framed by governments. The survival of the
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are detailed. The services to be delivered to governments, in true sense of term under the present
citizens are listed out with time and context, depends on acceptability of people for the
standards to which organizations usually services rendered by the former. Otherwise, the
adhere. It is citizens responsibility to spread negative fallout is perhaps dismissal of the
awareness about the benefits of citizens governments for their ineffective delivery system.
charters. It cannot be used as a tool to
improve public delivery system. The citizens charters are laudable in spirit and
content. Certain countries like Australia and South
In a country like India, it is not correct to come Africa laid down the objective in charters, which
to conclusion that citizens charters facilitate user- are realizable. For instance, the citizens in Australia
friendly administrative practices. India is a country
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are not given any legal rights against the


where more than one-third of its population is implementation of citizens charters but only
illiterate. Dolly Arora opines that shortage of assurances are given to them for receiving services
constitutional provisions and other statutes from the government agencies.
pertaining to the rights of the citizens, the
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responsibilities of the government towards the In South Africa, the citizens possess certain
citizens and at the same time in a country where provisions for the redressal of their grievances
almost 38 per cent of people are illiterate, citizens regarding the implementation of citizens charters.
charters make no difference to the citizens in If the public agencies fails to deliver goods and
claiming the services from the government agencies. services to people on time and do not maintain the
Under such conditions it may not be appropriate quality and standard, public agencies are under
to expect a turnaround of the administrative the obligation to tender apology apart from
processes and practices. Besides, everything is left compensate the losses incurred by the citizens.
to the good sense of the service provider Added to The public officials hitherto were managing
illiteracy, the efficacy of charters is shrouded in public administration according to their whims and
mystery, as Indian administration had been a user- fancies and the citizens were at the receiving end.
friendly system to customers (who pay bribe), rather But under the changing economic and
than citizens (who cannot pay bribe). Customers administrative scenario under LPG, the orientation
in this context are the individuals with the clout of and outlook of administration shall have to undergo
money and power, who often bypass rules for their a sea change or else the administration has to lose
benefits, whereas citizens are those marginalized its credibility in the eyes of the people.


Chronicle IAS Academy [9]